It could come at the cost of his own game time but Sydney FC star Milos Ninkovic wants youngsters given more of an opportunity and has called for the A-League not to increase the number of foreign players allowed in the competition.
Sydney FC had their youngsters to thank for sealing their 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners on Sunday after 20-year-old Harry van der Saag scored a stunning individual goal, minutes after setting-up teenager Marco Tilio for a goal on debut.
Marco Tilio celebrates the late goal that put Sydney 2-0 up over the Mariners.Credit:AAP
The performance of the two youngsters off the bench, along with a strong 90-minute defensive shift from 19-year-old fullback Joel King, masked an otherwise off-beat performance from Sydney FC.
Sky Blues coach Steve Corica says the youth players are now challenging senior players for starting positions but the older guard aren't the least bit concerned of the looming threat for places. Ninkovic was jubilant after the showing of Tilio, van der Saag and King and is urging clubs across to the league to show more faith in local youngsters.
"I am so happy for them," Ninkovic said. "I say it all the time, we have very good young players, not just Sydney FC but I think all the A-League teams but they just need to give them the chance. We keep pushing them to keep playing well and look what happens, they scored two unbelievable goals and hopefully they are going to bring something new in our team."
Bimbi gives them the chance and look at them now. You have to give them time.
Several A-League clubs are pushing to increase the limit of visa-players from five to six or more but Ninkovic believes such a move will be short-sighted and detrimental to the broader game. The Serbian international remains a visa-player since arriving in Australia in 2016
"Tell me now, how many young players do you have in the A-League? That is going to be a big problem for the Socceroos and Australian football," he said.
"I understand everyone wants the results but look at Joel King, look at Tilio, Jordi Swibel, Harry van der Saag, Luke Ivanovic as well. 'Bimbi' [Corica] gives them the chance and look at them now. You have to give them time and you can't expect they are going to play every game well.
"I was young as well and of course I had some bad games but I always played the next game. You have to give them chance, you have to support them if they play bad and then you have to give them another chance."
Milos Ninkovic wants kids to be given a chance in the A-League.Credit:AAP
Sydney have looked towards their youth team for players more this season than in the past and unearthed another gem on Sunday in the form of 18-year-old striker Tilio. Within seconds of making his A-League debut Tilio had already become a goal scorer. He showed maturity to finish with composure inside the box with one of his first touches in the A-League and, after the match, was struggling to come to terms with his dream start to professional football.
"Everything happened so quickly so I was … it’s an unreal feeling," he said. "It just came to me and I popped in the corner, it came to me from Harry [van der Saag] – one of my good mates, so I was so happy to celebrate with him."
Tilio spent five years progressing through the academy at Sydney FC before getting his chance on Sunday.
"It was incredible, I was very happy. A lot of hard work has been put into to getting my A-League debut and tonight I got my opportunity," he said.
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